The above is a job listing in Portland’s Craigslist for a basista-slash-bikini model. Barista-slash-bikini model.
Not only is this employer asking for people to perform one of the shittiest service jobs available, the barista; not only are they asking their baristas perform in bikinis; they’re asking their bikini model/baristas to work for TWELVE DOLLARS AN HOUR. Yes, that’s plus tips, but I don’t usually tip my barista–do you? Since I usually use my debit card, I don’t even throw my change into the change jar. One can assume the bikinis would lure… a certain type of customer, one that would tip more, but I can’t imagine these poor girls making anything like their bretheren, strippers, do. (I’ve certainly heard the argument that stripping is really a post-feminist empowerment/reverse-exploitation exercise, and there’s some validity to that, but I can’t see this job as being anything but exploitative).
Furthermore, I’m skeptical of how successful a place like this’d be. I live in a lower-middle-class to working-class neighborhood, but there are TWO natural-foods stores within easy biking distance. There are FOUR Whole Foods in PDX proper, and another three in the immediate environs. On my way to a place called The People’s Yoga tonight, I passed a boutique, gourmet dog food store. That’s all they sell. Boutique, gourmet, dog food.
That’s a good example of the sort of crazy niche markets that work here. (The place was doing land-office business). It’s liberal, and it capitalizes on the natural-foods trend that’s big in PDX. Hell, they probably even have gluten-free dog food.
But this isn’t New York City or Tokyo, where I could see the barista/bikini model cafe working–for a while. It strikes me as the type of place that’d be successful as long as it was hip and fresh. This isn’t the place to get your morning latte. It’d only last if the owners could market it to rubbernecking out-of-towners as a “tourist must-see,” like Bubba Gump Shrimp or that Guy Fieri monstrosity. And if that didn’t happen… well, the start-up investors would be cashed-out and gone before the drop-off set in–and left their barista/models with an ever-diminishing tip share.
I’d like to see a Very Portlandy Woman apply for this, actually. Like the woman who checked me out at Whole Foods the other day: heavily tatted, gross white-people dreds, patchouli oil-used-as-deodorant, probably hairy pits. She wouldn’t wear a bikini, instead serving coffee fully nude, as the Goddess intended.
Potential for hilarity: high. This is a great idea.